Let’s just enjoy our Food!

I’ve been traveling a lot for work since the start of 2017 and have been spending a lot of time in la belle province of Quebec. Being away from home and cooped up in my hotel room, I’ve had the opportunity to write plenty. Though I’m feeling a bit lonely and homesick some days, I also feel a sense of clarity. My thoughts are able to spill out more readily and it feels less contrived. I can only speak un petit peu of French and the weather here has been well below zero which gives me more reasons to stay indoors except for the occasional drive to a nearby restaurant.

I’ve had many opportunities to share my thoughts on mental health with fellow readers, but I haven’t had a chance to share some of my dining experiences during my recent travels. So here’s a little something more light-hearted. In the spirit of Solace, let’s remember to find ways to raise awareness about mental health and to talk about it. Prepare and cook a nice meal whether it’s made from scratch, bought from a store or even microwaved – simply enjoy it and savor the experience whether alone or with your friends and families. And take some time to read up or chat about mental health. When we become educated and can talk about it, we can eventually normalize it in our daily conversations without fear or awkwardness.

Enjoy the food because I sure did! (click on picture for description)

– Jason

(header photo: Muffaletta from Urban Deli, Saint John, New Brunswick)

The “4 second Jetti Mind Trick”

I watched the movie Return of the Jedi when I was 10 years old. My uncle that brought me to watch the movie used to pronounce Jedi as “Jetti”. I’m not sure if he was trying to be funny or if he truly believed that’s how it was supposed to be pronounced.

In the movie, the juggernaut crime lord Jabba the Hut accuses hero Luke Skywalker for playing a Jedi Mind Trick on him. I’m sure there’s tons of geek forums out there that can endlessly speculate the details of what it is, but for simplicity let’s just say it’s a play on the mind.

Well, here’s what I call the 4 second Jetti Mind Trick”. I’m not quite a Jetti-master yet but I’m getting there and use it from time to time. Try it with me (but read it through first because I’ll ask you to close your eyes which makes it nearly impossible for you to read what’s next unless you’re already skilled in the art of Jetti-ism?!)….Ready to have your mind blown away? Get ready…here’s how you do the 4 second Jetti Mind Trick:

  1. Sit comfortably upright on a chair or on your bed.
  2. Close your eyes and stop fidgeting for a moment.
  3. Take 4 seconds to deeply inhale through your nose.
  4. Hold it there at the apex of your lungs for 4 seconds…hold it…hold it…..hold it!
  5. Now RELEASE through your mouth and take 4 seconds to exhaust all that you inhaled in your lungs and stomach.
  6. When you’ve reached that bottom point in your exhale, HOLD it there for 4 more seconds.

Now repeat that for at least 4 more times (I usually go up to 10).

How do you feel? A tiny bit more relaxed? Heart rate’s probably a little lower? A bit more clarity? Well that’s because you just did a Jetti Mind Trick on yourself!

When you’re feeling a bit agitated or a bit overwhelmed with anxiety, give this a go. It helps slow things down in our heads. After all, it worked for Luke in Empire Strikes Back when he was clutching on with one hand in Cloud City using his mind to call his unbeknown twin sister and it worked for me when my son refused to talk to me for a period of 8 months.

And in honor of the Star Wars movies, the food of the day is milk. And add some blue food coloring to it as well while you’re at it…Cheers.

Finding a Counselor is like Finding your Favorite Ice Cream

For the past 7 summers, my son and I venture out to Whistler, BC and spend a few wonderful nights there staying at a hotel playing boardgames, hanging out at the pool, watching movies at their tiny old underground theatre and of course eating. Our favorite spot for dessert is a place called Cow’s Ice Cream. There’s always a lineup that stretches out the door and sometimes in front of neighboring stores but believe me, it’s worth the wait. The sweet sugary scent of the waffle cones could be sniffed out from a hundred feet away and the signature cow that stands in front of the storefront is a picture to post on your Facebook wall.

My favorite flavor is Bubblegum. Blue Bubblegum to be precise. Sure, it’s most likely an artificial blue #2 color but let’s just enjoy what’s in our food and not tear it apart. I just simply love the sweet taste of the ice cream with that resounding taste of bubblegum…the ones we used to eat as kids. Nostalgia is the word. Great word…it generates a sensation of fond memories whenever I taste it. However, it took me years to find my favorite flavor.

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Bubblegum ice cream from Cow’s

Growing up my favourite ice cream flavour was strawberry. My sister loved chocolate and my brother loved vanilla. Whether it’s by default that I picked strawberry (since I’m the youngest in the family and was last to pick) or Neapolitan ice cream was destined to live in our household.

As years went by I still wanted bubblegum as I curiously pressed my nose onto the glass counter hoping for a closer look. My parents forbid me from buying it…I’m not 100% sure why other than having them tell me that “it doesn’t taste good!” – so I was left with strawberry. As I got older and could pay for my own ice cream, I subconsciously heard my parents’ voices sounding like Orson Welles saying “dooon’t buy bubblegum.” So I didn’t and would end up buying chocolate, vanilla or maybe got adventurous with a swirl cone. I eventually mustered up the courage to buy Tiger Tail flavor, Rocky Road and Mint Chocolate Chip. But it just didn’t quite satisfy my lingering tastebuds. My search for satisfaction finally ended in my 20’s when I was out with my friends and finally bought my first ever Bubblegum ice cream cone. They were repulsed by it because “it has chunks of bubblegum in it?!” – It was everything I hoped for and more.

There’s hundreds or maybe even thousands of different ice cream flavors to try. Just like many things in life, there’s so many options to choose from to get our complete satisfaction and value for money such as: your favorite hair stylist, doctor, dentist, car mechanic and cellular phone plans.

But what about your favorite counselor? First off, how many of us voluntarily go to counseling? I do and I support the idea 110%.

Counseling is often times stigmatized and feared. There are far too many MYTHS about counselling that we all need to overcome.

Years ago I was just like most of us out there and thought of counseling as the following:

  1. It’s for losers! People who are losers in life go to counseling.
  2. I don’t need help. I’m perfectly fine as is. You’re the problem!
  3. Ok, I admit I’m not perfect and I recognize that. But I still don’t need help!
  4. Talking about problems is over-rated.
  5. My friends, family members and colleagues might think less of me if I tell them I’m going to counseling. They might judge me for having problems and I’ll feel embarrassed and small.
  6. I’m not quite there yet. counselling is the last resort when I truly need help.

I eventually learned that these are myths that we need to overcome as a society. We go to our mechanic when our car is broken. We visit the doctor when we have the flu. We see a dentist for our regular cleanup. But what about when we’re not feeling well mentally? How do you manage that? Some people drink, some people mindlessly binge eat and some people like myself years ago would take it out on others.

Just take a step back and observe this objectively: When we’re having a hard time coping with depression, work stress, relationship issues or family matters, it’s typical to generate a lot of overwhelming thoughts and feelings. Most of us have a hard time articulating and admitting that we’re having difficult feelings because it’s usually “the other person’s fault”, right? Well, objectively, that can’t always be the case. So why don’t we take care of our minds? Is it because we’re a bit afraid and uncomfortable to address what’s underneath the issues?

It’s ludicrous that we don’t seek professional support when it comes to our inner health. We wait until the tipping point of stress gets so overwhelming before we do anything about it. I benefit by seeing my counsellor every few months to get my inner health checked, just like how one would benefit from getting their annual checkup with their doctor. Once I began to see counselling this way, it became much easier to embrace and it made perfect and logical sense. My son goes to counceling regularly and also finds it helpful. Afterall, it’s your time and you can talk about anything with them. And I can assure you will walk out of there with a clearer mind, a bit more enlightened and maybe even smile. I sometimes go not because I’m feeling overwhelmed and stressed but because I just want to check in on myself as preventative self care. But, just like my ice cream, it took me some time to find the councilors that I connected with.When you’re ready to benefit from working with a counselor, here’s some Useful Tips:

  1. Shop around! That’s the great thing about online shopping…you can just read about counsellors in your area by clicking a few links. Read up on the counsellors and email or phone them if you’d like to get a feel whether they can address what you’re looking for. I was looking for a councilor that did CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) and not all are trained or experienced in that.
  2. Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). If you’re fortunate to have one at work, give them a call. They’ll connect you with a councelor in your area and most likely it’s free of service that’s offered by your company. But, like point #1, shop around.
  3. Ask questions. One mistake I made going to couples counselling years ago was that we went to a councelor that had zero experience working with couples. I could not connect with her and it was a bad experience that I felt frustrated with. Ask before you go what their portfolio and years of experience have been. Do they work with teens? Do they work with couples regardless of gender or sexual preference? Do they work with suicide and depression? What are their hours of operation? If you’re not comfortable with them, you’re not committed to them and can find another one that works for you. 
  4. Don’t let one bad experience prevent you from trying another. To point #3, find a connection. Keep trying different counsellors until you find one that works well for you, just like you would going to doctor or hair dresser. Don’t let a counsellor tell you differently by trying to convince you that “they’re all the same” and guilt you into working with them (although I’ve never experienced this). Just because you’re not connecting with them doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily being difficult. It might just mean that you need to find a counsellor that you can feel safer and more comfortable with. I’ve worked with about a dozen different counselors through the years…about 4 of them have worked really well for me and the rest haven’t. It’s your time and your money and you have every right to work with a different cousellor if you choose to.
  5. Allow yourself time to find a connection. Keep an open mind because it sometimes takes a few visits to build a bond and connection. One of my first counselors was a man named Guillermo who had a gruff looking face and not a particularly warm smile. In fact I felt meek when I first met him, but after a couple of meetings and slowly easing my way into conversations, I realized he’s the counsellor I love to work with (and continue to do so). At the same time he also enjoys working with me very much. I now see him as a man who I can look up to as a role model and in fact I can see us evolving into friends after he retires in a few years. Be patient with yourself and also with your counsellor that you intend to work with.
  6. Talk, talk and talk! It’s your time! In return, you will gain clarity, enlightenment, a bit of wisdom and compassion with validation. Validation is immensely powerful when you have challenges. Validation doesn’t tell you that you’re right, but it tells you that you are heard and that your opinion matters. This is when some of the most powerful healing can take place. 
  7. One session doesn’t solve all. There’s no miracles here. Be prepared to make subsequent visits.
  8. Tell your friends, family members and colleagues. I tell mine I have a counseling appointment this weekend and I don’t feel stigmatized. Some may show concern, but all of them have been encouraging and inspired that I talk about it so openly. By openly telling people, you’ll feel less shame and fear about the stigma.
  9. Just make the appointment. That’s the toughest step. After that you’ll likely feel relief that you did because you’re doing something to look after yourself. Take a proactive approach and make an appointment when you feel a pattern or onset of overwhelming thoughts and feelings in your mind. Here’s a cautionary tale I wrote on listening to your body.

..so…what are you waiting for? Go find a counselor that works for you and get your inner health checked up…and maybe go for an ice cream afterwards.

When to say no to Ice Cream Floats and a Lesson in Listening to your Pain.

I should have listened to my stomach…

I had a bit of a stomach ache tonight, but I still insisted on having this sweet and delicious root beer float after dinner. That rich vanilla taste melting together with the root beer is purely bliss. How could I resist? Sip after sip, spoonful after spoonful I fell into the temptation of this delicious treat until the last sticky drop was finished and the only thing that remained was an aching stomach and regret.

If only I listened to my stomach. If only I listened to my body.

*

I can be hell frightening sometimes.

One fine evening many years ago, my girlfriend at the time and I were getting ready to go to a fundraiser at a local pub. It was a casual event but none the less we still did our best to dress up for the occasion which for me meant a nice hot shower, fresh boxers and a bit of mouthwash to freshen up my aging breath. Typically just before social engagements among strangers or people that I’m not so comfortable with, I have a tendency to do one or a combination of the following:

  • think about how bored, disinterested and nervous I’m going to feel during the event.
  • find reasons in my head not to go or create legit reasons to cop out.
  • shut down and not want to talk or do much throughout the day.
  • get irritable and start an argument, unrelated to the event.
  • pout and clearly show an icy and cold facial demeanor that’s filled with resentment.
  • blame everyone for my unhappiness.

Because it was a fundraiser that was put together by the school that my girlfriend worked at, this meant I wasn’t going to know anyone other than her, which meant that I would cling onto her like a new found puppy dog, minus the cuteness factor.

As I was showering, we started talking about the evening and my running mind began wandering aimlessly like a chicken with its head cut off. An argument ensued and my ridiculous thoughts ran wild fueled by my insecurities and fears that my girlfriend would run off with someone at the pub who was a million times more dashing than I was and as charismatic as Robert Downey Jr. Out of frustration, she finally turned around and sarcastically replied, “MAYBE I WILL!”

Like a fired up tiger ready to pounce, I ripped down the shower curtain and roared, “GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!”

Frightened, she disengaged but I jumped out of the shower and pursued her while I was dripping wet. I continued to rampage on and on how she doesn’t love me and this is not what love is (which is ironic given that I was naked, wet and yelling at her about what love is).

Like a person who just sprinted a hundred meters, I eventually ran out of breath. We miraculously patched things up in an hour or so and eventually made it out to the fundraiser unscathed for the rest of the evening. But like all major arguments, it left a lasting scar that was irreparable.

…that was a scary ass story me to recount and for you to read I’m sure. Abuse takes many forms and in this case it was about subconsciously striking fear in the other person to ‘show them who’s boss’ so that they’ll back down and concede to what you tell them to do.

So let’s take some time to strip this down more (other than how I was an insecure fool).

Why did I do these things? Years later, I discovered the word ANXIETY. Say it with me…anx-i-e-ty…it’s a word that took some time for me to accept.

Anxiety is a feeling I get when my mind starts thinking too many steps ahead and trying to pretend that I’m Carnac the Magnificent. Have you ever thought about future events and what’s going to happen when things get dicey or uncomfortable? Like what’s going to happen if you’re late picking up your kids from school or if the laundry doesn’t get done? End of the world, right? This was a pattern I experienced prior to unfamiliar social engagements: Christmas dinners at my girlfriend’s parent’s house, her grandmother’s funeral, meeting her friends for the first time and the list goes on.

My problem was that my feelings of anxiousness got me all tied up with wandering thoughts of: Who am I going to talk to? What if no one likes me? It’s just going to be a bunch of people getting drunk and it’s not going to be any fun for me so I’d rather stay home and watch the paint dry on the wall rather than spend my evening with these strangers.

The tricky part for me was that I wasn’t aware of these wandering thoughts. There were so many and all of them going on at the same time, it became such a slushy mess in my head that it’s difficult to catch what was really going on. And when the anxiousness wasn’t getting properly managed, the uglies came out in the form of anger as shared in my story.

So here’s the trick I use these days whenever I notice some of that slushy discomfort in my head coming on like a fast and furious freight train. Now, this takes practice and even I still fall off the bike from time to time. I believe it’s a learned skill for people like me, yet a necessary one for my benefit. For some it’s more innate depending on several factors including upbringing and genetics (gosh, I envy those people!)

The trick is….wait for it…wait for it…

…feel your body…

No, not touch your body…feel it! Using your mind, pay attention and feel what’s going on in there first. Don’t judge what’s going on, simply identify it first. Trust not in your thoughts and with what you hear sometimes because many times they can be misleading to the truth about yourself.

Step 1: Feel your body.

Growing up whenever my dad called me useless and worthless I heard those harsh words. After hearing those words, my mind and body shut down to everything else and simply stayed in a fixed mode that I was worthless. If I was able to filter out what he said which was only his perspective (and not the truth), I might have been able to recognize the bodily sensations:

  • heat in my face and neck (from feeling embarrassment and shame).
  • tightened chest and as if everything was rising to the top in an instant (also from feeling shame)
  • a scowl and tightness in my temples and brow (from feeling anger and resentment)
  • increased heartrate

So fast forward to the story about my rampaging argument in the shower. If I was able to freeze that moment in the argument and filter out the things my girlfriend said, I might have recognized my bodily sensations:

  • heat in my face and neck (from feeling embarrassment and shame)
  • a rising tightness in the chest (also from shame)
  • a scowl and tightness in my temples and brow (from anger)
  • increased heartrate.

See the parallels? My body is an early warning signal that something could go wrong if I don’t pay attention to it. Anger, anxiety, depression could take over if I don’t feel what’s going on in my body.

Step 2: Connect the dots

My lack of self-worth reaches way back to my own self-belief based on how I was taught to see myself. In this case, I saw myself as worthless. As an adult I carried those subconscious beliefs that I’m worthless, so in a heated argument with my girlfriend (or whomever), I saw them as the people who once hurt me. In essence, I’m fighting back against the pain of once being called worthless even though my girlfriend wasn’t even saying those things.

Let’s look at it this way:

  • as a child I was physically, verbally and emotionally abused by my dad, mom, brother and uncles and aunt. As a child I didn’t have the capacity to express my anger. The pain got bottled up.
  • the pain doesn’t go away. Because I kept the pain to myself growing up, the pain kept expanding and expanding like a soda can that’s been shaken.
  • because I did not properly process the pain faced from my childhood, as an adult I reacted to triggers in unhealthy way, such as anger and withdrawal. But underneath the anger is hurt, pain, sadness, loneliness and fear that I wasn’t able to identify (anger is a secondary emotion to all these things).

Pretty deep stuff, right?

Step 3: Identify and acknowledge the bodily sensations and find an “outlet”

When I start breathing and recognizing what’s going on in my body (the heated face, rising tension in chest, etc), I can slowly and gently take care of those bodily feelings first and foremost. Once I can spend a couple of minutes and start to say calmly to myself, “I can feel my face heating up, my chest is rising, my hearbeat is faster…”, I’ve begun to acknowledge my bodily feelings and I will soon notice a shift.

My primary focus has now become listening and paying attention to my body rather than the thoughts in my head. At this point, the thoughts that plagued my mind becomes secondary to what’s happening and that’s where I can keep it. The thoughts are there, but I now discover that I can rationally acknowledge and deal with them. They’re just no longer the priority. They’re just thoughts. Only ideas. They’re just there. It doesn’t mean they’re real or true. They don’t need to be judged as good or bad. They don’t need to be forced out or cancelled. It’s just what my brain is telling me based on some triggers I may have previously experienced in my subconscious. With a cooler head, talking about those thoughts becomes a lot easier and in a healthier way.

When I’m focused on my bodily sensations and not on the wandering thoughts, amazingly, the bodily sensations will eventually subside.

There’s a lot of ways I can find an “outlet” that will make it easier to manage those painful thoughts. It can be hard and I still struggle sometimes depending on how painful the thoughts are. I just have to remind myself that those painful thoughts won’t help the situation so there’s no need to allow them to stay with me. They’ll merely get pent up and cause the heat in the face, tightness in the chest and so on and so forth.

Here’s some examples of “outs” that I will share with you in future blogs:

  • 4 second breathing exercise.
  • meditation.
  • distractions (ie. sex, doing something fun like video games, watching a movie, cooking, gardening)
  • exercising.
  • taking a bath.
  • do a crossword.
  • listen or play some music.
  • phone a friend.
  • read.
  • comfort yourself by doing a combination of any or all the above.

To summarize when an onset of painful feelings or an argument starts to come on:

  • Feel what’s going on in your body (heat, pressure in temple, heartrate). Pause there and be with your feelings for a moment. Your body is an early warning signal saying, “Alert! Pay attention! Things could get dicey if you don’t!”
  • Thoughts will become secondary once you’ve successfully felt your bodily discomforts. 
  • Connect the dots – what are some deeper reasons why you’re reacting the way you do?
  • Acknowledge the discomfort in the body by calmly saying to yourself, “i feel pain in my stomach or I can feel pressure in my head.”
  • Find an outlet – breathing, meditating or talking with a friend are great examples of outlets. At this point your thoughts may become clearer for you to further rationalize and talk about without feeling terribly overwhelmed.

It takes a lot of practice, but remember that it’s worth it in the end.

…and if only I listened to my body I wouldn’t have regrets of having that float.

Mind ourselves

“It would be a terrible mistake to go through life thinking that people are the sum total of what you see.” – Jonathan Tropper

Good morning everyone from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia! This is my very first blog and I’m really excited about this new project in life. What’s Solace all about you ask? Well, let me introduce myself first and start from the beginning. The backstory’s usually the most interesting part anyway.

Well as a starter, I’ve done some bad things in my life…

That’s right…I’ve done some bad things. For starters, I was once an abusive man in my relationships…buuut, before i get into that, let me start with a different picture.

Who am I?

…well, I’m that guy…

 …which guy?

That one…there.

I’m the guy you pass by at the supermarket buying his weekly supply of milk, eggs, chips and toiletries, standing in line waiting to pay while pretending not to look at what’s new in this week’s tabloid magazines. I’m the guy that might have smiled at you while holding the door open at the local Starbucks. The guy that was laughing and having a good time with his friends at the local pub watching sports highlights while downing a frothy wheat ale and polishing a greasy plate of nachos. The guy at the gym every weekday morning at 6:00 am grunting like he’s on his way to an orgasm with every shoulder press and burpee.

You see, unless we already know each other, I’m that guy you see everyday but don’t even notice at all. I have a great job as a Food Developer for over 20 years that has allowed me to travel across North America and Europe. I have a great apartment in the suburbs and a teenage son who I enjoy playing basketball and video games with. I dress business casual at work, otherwise in jeans and a plain old t-shirt. I like to exercise so I am moderately to fairly fit and I’ve run my fair share of 10 km runs and half marathons. I pay my taxes and I’ve only gotten two speeding tickets in my entire life (although one of them was technically running a red light). I’m 5’9″ and don’t have any visible handicaps or verbal stutters.  I don’t know how the US electoral system works, I can’t remember shit about what I learned in organic chemistry and covalent bonds, and I can’t tell you the difference between a lager and an ale, unless I Google it right now.

In short, I’m just the person next door living in a great big world making his way through life…kinda’ like you.A month after my 42nd birthday a hard reality started to hit me. My girlfriend of 3 years said goodbye to the relationship seeing that I was emotionally and verbally abusive to her. She was a lovely woman with a smile that I could spot through any crowded room. Unfortunately, I was a guy filled with insecurities, challenging her love 24-7 and in pain staking ways that no one should endure. However before all that, I’ve always known a few positive things about myself:

  • I’m romantic (I buy flowers)
  • I’m passionate (I buy flowers and include a card with it)
  • I’m thoughtful (I write something in the card)
  • I’m considerate (I’ll get them delivered)
  • And I’m pretty easy going (…that’s fine if it gets delivered on February 15th…)

Yet I also knew that I can be stubborn, very irritable and hot headed at times…wait a second…did I say stubborn, irritable and hot headed? (cue the comedic record scratch)

Fast forward through years of working with therapists, workshops and a ton of self help books, I eventually managed to explore and  learn more about myself and my triggers. Other than the sugary sweet and wonderful things that I already knew about myself, I learned that I was also a very angry, depressed, insecure, controlling and resentful man who hid behind a mask and pretended that everything in my life was working out wonderfully. It took a long time, a lot of work and courage to come to terms with myself. But once I was able to, the feelings were liberating. This of course is the Coles summary of the work I’ve done, thousands of dollars later and a million Stuart Smalley impersonations.

I’m a man with a great job, great home and a great kid who seemingly appears to have his shit together. Thus, appearances can be deceiving. The truth is that I battle depression and anxiety. I grew up in a household where I was physically abused to submission by my caregivers and was also a victim of bullying throughout high school. My older brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was a teenager and I’ve made some bad choices in my life including being abusive in my relationships, with family members and friends.

You wouldn’t know all this just by looking at me.

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So finally…what’s Solace about then? Is it about looking after our inner health? The answer is a resounding, yes. It’s about discussing everything that we do to take care of what’s inside of us from how we think, our challenges, our successes, what we eat, our relationships, exercise, our family histories and the list goes on.

It’s also about getting to know ourselves more and challenging each of us to be courageous and to acknowledge our difficult feelings and to take accountability instead of running from them. Sometimes our poor choices and actions can make it difficult to forgive ourselves but when we understand ourselves more, it can put things into context. And finally, Solace is about finding comfort and peace inside us. It gets messy inside our heads and bodies sometimes…so let’s take good care of that together.

I’m not a doctor nor therapist by any stretch. Heck, I’m not even Dr Phil for that matter. I’m just an every day guy hoping to reach out and inspire friends, families and people I’ve never met before with my stories of failures and successes. Stories from growing up in a punishing and abusive home, to how I furiously ripped down a shower curtain in front of my ex-girlfriend during a heated argument several years ago. I’ll share stories on how I got professional help and why that’s so important in a later blog about counseling.

Through my lifelong experience with abuse, shame, depression, anxiety and many more inner health struggles, I feel it is my purpose and goal to share my learnings with you. I’m hoping you’ll help me as well by relating and finding that ounce of bravery inside of you to share your experiences with depression, anxiety, childhood trauma or maybe you have been abusive and controlling as well and want to change but unsure how to take the first steps.

For those of us who are uncomfortable talking and reading about mental health, abuse and emotions…well just remember, I’m just like you. I have failed as many times as I’ve succeeded. We all have mental health struggles from time to time. It’s hard to feel it, it’s hard to believe it, but trust me, you have them too and strengthening the relationship with yourself can have amazing results where stress, discomfort and fear become manageable feelings instead of overwhelming ones.

We can all benefit by openly talking about our struggles without judgment and stigma. There’s no shame in our struggles, only if we choose not to do anything about them and when our actions begin hurting ourselves and others.

Well, that my fellow readers is a snapshot of who I am and where I’d like to go with this! So come along and join me for some great stories and let’s get to know ourselves some more.

Cheers,

Jason

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Jason Lee, Author of Living with the Dragon. Photo by Kristi MacFarlane Photography.